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Renewed pertussis threat in Northern Michigan comes with expanded recommendations

FEBRUARY 25– Even if you aren't concerned about the threat of pertussis – also known as whooping cough – for yourself, you may be unknowingly spreading the illness to others, especially infants and young children, to whom it may be fatal.

The number of pertussis cases has been rising sharply throughout the United States. In Michigan, 847 cases were reported during 2012, and one infant died. Three Northern Michigan cases have appeared already during the first two months of 2013, says Joshua Meyerson, M.D., Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

“The best way to protect young infants is to ensure everyone around them is vaccinated,” Dr. Meyerson emphasized, adding that routine hand-washing is also helpful. “Make sure every adult coming in close proximity to an infant has been immunized with a vaccine to prevent pertussis (Tdap). Make sure young children receive all five recommended doses of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine at two, four, six and fifteen months of age, and again at four years of age.”

Dr. Meyerson added that there are new vaccination recommendations for women who are pregnant. “All pregnant women are now being advised to get a Tdap during their third trimester, between 27 and 36 weeks, and they should get the Tdap with each pregnancy,” he explained. “This provides additional protection for infants when they are born.”

The Health Department offers all necessary immunizations, including Tdap and DTaP vaccines, through its clinics in Bellaire, Charlevoix, Gaylord, Harbor Springs/Petoskey and Mancelona. Medicare, Medicaid and many forms of private health insurance are accepted. Those without health insurance coverage for immunizations qualify for reduced rates for these vaccines. For more information, or to schedule appointments for yourself and your family, call the Health Department at (800) 432-4121 today.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information, visit